Ernst Pfenninger is a master goldsmith, silversmith and designer with over 45 years of professional experience and expertise. He completed a four year apprenticeship in silversmithing at Fumagalli, Zurich followed by a two year apprenticeship in goldsmithing at Klaesi, Ruti Zurich and, at the same time, attended for 6 years the prestigious Art School for Gold and Silversmiths at the Kunstgewerbe Schule, Zurich.
Between 1970 and 1973 Ernst worked professionally in Switzerland. In 1973 he left Switzerland for Australia where he desired an experience of another lifestyle, culture and to further develop his own personal professional artistic style. He loved Australia so much that Sydney became his permanent home. Between 1973 and 1974 Ernst worked professionally with Wal Van Heeckeren.
In 1974 he established his own workshop and showroom. In that year he also started his own private school, Ernst Pfenninger’s School for Gold and Silversmiths where he has taught jewellery and silversmithing to over 800 students and continues teaching today, a period spanning 38 years.
Between 1979 and 1983 Ernst taught one night a week and every annual summer school at the University of New South Wales. In the early 1980’s he also taught at the Summer School at Toowoomba, Queensland as well as giving demonstrations and workshops in some country towns such as Molong and Quirindi in New South Wales.
In 1981 Ernst had a full time apprentice for one year (Crafts Council grant) and from 1999 to 2003 another full time apprentice.
A strong alliance was formed in 1989 when Sharon and Ernst Pfenninger's business partnership began. From 2003 until the present Ernst’s work is on permanent display at their own gallery style shop Studio 303 at 303 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt with his workshop on the premises.
Ernst has a flair for design excellence combining the time tested Swiss techniques of gold and silversmithing with creativity, enthusiasm and passion to fashion pieces that are truly unique. His desire to go beyond traditional boundaries has led to Ernst creating individual, unusual and exquisite fine jewellery of the highest quality and an array of objet d’art. He works with and combines a myriad of materials including gold, silver, platinum, titanium, brass, bronze, diamonds, gemstones, wood, perspex, resin, leather, fibres and much more. Ernst handcrafts detailed contemporary to classic items of jewellery, silverware, hollow-ware to small sculptures and ceremonial items for his private clientele, corporate customers, educational institutions, government bodies and city councils.
Some notable commissions Ernst has designed and created are the ceremonial Keys to the City for 11 Councils, five maces for the Federal Court of Australia, awards for the Civil Contractors Federation of Australia for over 20 years until the present, trophies for the Jewellers Association of Australia, a major Australian wine award for McWilliams Wines crafted since 1990 until the present and awards for Tourism Australia USA for a period of 11 years.
Ernst’s work is renowned both in Australia and internationally where he was involved in several exhibitions both in Japan and Korea.
"A great inspiration for my work comes from nature - the shapes, textures, patterns, combination of materials, balance and proportions. Each piece that I design and craft has its own unique quality and intrinsic essence."
"There are a myriad of possibilities limited only by the imagination."
A master craftsman with a flair for design excellence, Ernst combines the time tested Swiss techniques of gold and silversmithing with creativity, enthusiasm and passion to fashion an item that is truly unique. His desire to go beyond traditional boundaries has led to individual and exquisite creations.
Ernst is a master designer, goldsmith and silversmith. He completed both professions in Switzerland and attended the prestigious art school, Kunstgewerbe Schule in Zurich. Ernst arrived in Australia in 1973 to establish his workshop, showroom and private school.
A diverse range of materials are used giving tangible expression to innovative and unique ideas. Spectacular works are produced in customised jewellery from contemporary styles to classic elegance. Ernst's work is renowned both in Australia and internationally.
A strong alliance was formed in 1989 when Sharon and Ernst Pfenninger's business partnership began.
- Member of the Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia